The County has an obligation to provide a safe and healthy work environment to its employees. In regards to the flu, supervisors are expected (per Chief Executive Office memoranda dated October 9, 2009 and January 11, 2010) to provide a first “line of defense” by being observant for employees who may be “ill-at-work” and potentially contagious.
In regards to the flu, contagiousness exists until all symptoms have been gone for at least 24 hours. Typical flu symptoms that may be apparent to supervisors include frequent coughing, flushed skin, red and watery eyes, and/or reported fever.
When flu is suspected, it is important for management to talk to the employee. The employee’s symptoms may be due to a non-contagious condition like bronchitis, asthma, or allergies. If not, the employee should be encouraged to go home until he has been symptom-free for at least 24 hours.
There may be rare instances when an employee refuses to leave the workplace despite exhibiting flu-like symptoms. Since only a health care professional can diagnose a medical condition, the Ill-at-Work Evaluation was established to assist supervisors in these difficult cases by providing a professional assessment of potential contagiousness.
To initiate an Ill-at-Work Evaluation, the supervisor must call the nearest DHR Occupational Health Program (OHP) contractor that provides this evaluation to inform the staff that an employee is being sent to the clinic (see Table of Employee Medical Contractor for contractor contact information and pricing that will be billed to the department through the DHR). The supervisor must then fax the following before the employee arrives:
- An Employee Examination Work Order requesting an “ILL-at-Work” evaluation (see http://hr.lacounty.gov/subsites/OHP/pdf/em%20work%20order.pdf), and
- A short memorandum describing all observations of concern such as “employee is coughing frequently” or “employee appears ill with flushed skin and red, watery eyes.”
Thereafter, the employee should be immediately directed to report to the clinic (or alternatively, change their mind and go home).
Should the contract physician conclude that the employee is ill and contagious, the physician will place the employee off-duty for the remainder of the day, and fax a duty slip back to the supervisor. Otherwise, the employee will be returned to the workplace with a return-to-work note signed by a clinic physician.
An employee who was placed off-duty by the clinic does not need to return to the clinic prior to coming back to work. Assuming that at least a day has transpired, the supervisor would then assess the employee as he would do any other employee returning from a medical leave. Going back to the clinic for a second ILL-at–Work Evaluation would be contingent on repeated observations consistent with flu symptoms by the supervisor.